Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! Today we’re going to talk about Occupational Wellness. Before we even get started, let me just say that I realize a lot of us who have fibromyalgia or another chronic illness do not work at a traditional job/career, but there are still aspects of occupational wellness that can apply to us.
First, let’s take a look at some definitions for the occupational dimension of wellness:
According to SAMHSA (whose wellness wheel is pictured above), Occupational Wellness is “personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work.”
Princeton University defines Occupational Wellness as “finding fulfillment from your work and study, contributing meaningfully, and continuing to expand your skills and strengths.”
Another definition, this one from the University of California Riverside looks at it a little differently: “Occupational Wellness is the ability to achieve a balance between work and leisure time, addressing workplace stress and building relationships with co-workers. It focuses on our search for a calling and involves exploring various career options and finding where you fit.”
If we marry all these definitions, our definition of Occupational Wellness might look something like this: Occupational Wellness is having meaningful work, paid or unpaid, from which we derive satisfaction, enrichment, and fulfillment. Whether it’s something considered traditional work or an activity that allows us to fulfill our calling, that work allows us to contribute meaningfully and continue to expand our skills and strengths. Regardless of the type of work we do, we are able to balance that with other dimensions of wellness.
As you can see from the definitions above, although Occupational Wellness is most often thought of in relation to a traditional occupation, anything you do that is meaningful and has the ability to impact others could be considered work. For example, I no longer work, but I consider blogging my “job” now. I may not be bringing home a paycheck or changing the world, but I do have the opportunity to encourage others who are living with fibromyalgia or other chronic illness. That’s meaningful work for me, and I’m definitely working to expand my skills and strengths.
So now that we know what Occupational Wellness is, how do we ensure we’re working toward being where we need to be in that area? Here are some questions we can ask ourselves:
- Am I using my skills and talents to contribute positively to the world around me?
- Do I enjoy the work I’m doing?
- Is my work meaningful to me?
- Am I learning new skills to help me accomplish my goals?
- Do I have the tools I need to manage stress in the workplace?
- Is there balance between my work and leisure time?
- Do I have a manageable workload?
- Have I learned to handle criticism? (For some tips on handling criticism, check out these from Northern Michigan University.)
- Do I have good work relationships? (NMU also has tips for that….)
A need to contribute in some way to the world around us seems to be wired into our DNA. Having something meaningful to do gives us a sense of purpose, whether that “something” is a traditional occupation, raising children, volunteer work, or even a hobby.
Do you feel the occupational dimension applies to your life? Why or why not? Please share!